Justice Watch: Legal Community Puts Pressure On Rubio To Stop Blocking Judge
Legal community outrage is growing against U.S. Senator Marco Rubio for blocking President Barack Obama's nomination of Miami-Dade Judge William Thomas to the federal bench.
A letter writing and petition campaign is under way among lawyers on behalf of the openly gay black judge. Attorneys are eager to speak on behalf of the judge, saying Rubio's official inaction is clearly political and designed to align himself with the Tea Party element of the Republican Party.
"It is disappointing that the nomination of a highly qualified judge who would add to the diversity of our federal bench has become mired in the political process," said attorney Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, a partner at Duane Morris in Miami and a long-time civil rights advocate.
Coral Gables attorney David Tucker said he has gathered more than 1,000 names on the electronic petition in support of the nomination to send to Rubio.
"This is very much about allowing the Senate to do its job," he said. "The right thing to do is let the process take its course. If he wants to vote against him in the Senate, God bless him."
To stymie Thomas' nomination, Rubio has refused to submit what is called a blue slip. By parliamentary procedure, the Senate Judiciary Committee waits for one before considering judicial nominees. A missing blue slip amounts to a pocket veto. Thomas' nomination has been pending more than 300 days.
The odd part about Rubio's maneuver is that he and U.S. Senator Bill Nelson recommended Thomas to Obama after interviews.
Support From Prosecutors
Much of the outrage in the last week has been directed at what critics say is Rubio's mischaracterization of two criminal cases cited by the senator in support of his decision to block the nomination.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Nushin G. Sayfie, administrative judge in the criminal division, said Rubio got his facts wrong about a hit-and-run motorist who killed a bicyclist. Sayfie blames erroneous media reports relied on by Rubio.
"I have known Judge William Thomas as a colleague and friend for approximately 19 years," Sayfie wrote. "He is a dedicated, intelligent, compassionate and hard-working public servant."